NUTLEY, NJ - Community reaction to proposed school construction is not limited to educational programming. At the Washington School town hall, the most well attended meeting so far, reaction was diverse.
Former Nutley Board of Education member John Cafone said he felt everyone wanted to support this plan. However, regarding town wide building, the former Roche property and parking lot at Cathedral Ave plus the state calling for more affordable housing, he wanted to know: ‘where do our commissioners stand?’ And ‘are they willing to be more receptive to less development’.
A suggestion was given that the Board look into a Capital Campaign. As an example, the Board should contact Nutley native Martha Stewart to request funding of the High School Media Center. The Yantacaw parent making the suggestion said, “I think Charlie (Kucinski) is a classmate of hers.” Glazer responded that although the town has many resources the Board needs to bring the plans forward as a whole program. According to Karen Yeamans, Business Administrator, ‘fortunately we don’t need to bond all at once.’
When asked by a parent to ‘tell us what you need and we will get it for you, Glazer said. “At this point in the process what we need is this understanding and input.” Another parent stated that she hoped the Board would reach out to parents and the community at large during the revision process before waiting for parents and citizens to reach out to them.
Franklin Avenue Area Business Owners Voice Concerns: Middle School Construction Plan
The owner of property adjacent to the Davis bike shop property wanted answers concerning parking. She emphasized that parking needed to be considered as part of the overall construction plan especially to accommodate the additional staff that would be hired. She informed the Board that some existing staff currently used her property for parking.
The business owner also asked if any provision had been included for a Pick Up Drop Off lane for parents due to current school day am and pm gridlock on Church Street. President Carnicella responded that parking was still being addressed. When asked how local businesses would be impacted during construction, the architect stated that the entire area would be ‘sealed off’.
Regarding taxes, a business owner wanted to know if in addition to residential property numbers, the Board planned to provide potential tax impact figures for commercial property owners.
Final Requests and Next Steps
The mother of a first and second grader stated that the one thing that came out of the forum for her was that more work was needed on the plans. She thanked the Board members and urged them to view our students and teachers holistically, considering all of their needs when revising the plans.
The inevitable question was eventually asked: What is the next option if the referendum does not pass? The teacher expressed concern that Washington has to come up with another classroom for next year with no plan how to do this because ‘we are teaching in closets and in hallways as it is. What do we do then?’
After applause from the teachers in attendance, Dr Glazer responded. “What happens is increased class sizes. Keeping these trailers and adding additional trailers. ..sections closed… waivers denied...The charm of this town is in your neighborhoods, is in your schools…is in all of the things you have created over time. If it doesn’t pass we are in the reality of not having what you have had up until now.” Carnicella added that the success of the September vote depended on what the Board ultimately determined to be the “final number.”
According to Superintendent Glazer the board is going to continue working with the architects to refine the plans. She said, ‘The board will take feedback gathered in the next month and consider in closed session on February 13 before voting on what it intends to do.’ If the Board decides to move forward with the first referendum, Nutley voters will go to the polls September 2017 to decide on investing in construction projects to eliminate school overcrowding. Students would begin classes in the new educational spaces in 2020.
Nutley citizens attending the BOE public meeting Feb 27 at 7pm in the JHWMS Music Room will learn the Board’s decision.
WATCH: 2017-01-19 Referendum Town Hall Video Click here: Washington Town Hall
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Watch for TapIntoNutley articles for continued coverage of the Town Hall meetings that took place at Yantacaw and Lincoln Schools. The upcoming meetings are:
- Wed Feb 1 at 7pm - Spring Garden School Auditorium
- Wed Feb 8 at 7pm - Radcliffe School Media Center
Members of the Board of Education have stressed that residents can attend any of these town hall meetings, not just the one in their neighborhood school.
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